Make Windows 10 look like Windows 7 – for an easy transition

Microsoft hasn’t released any updates for the old Windows 7 operating system for a few weeks. Now, no more serious security gaps are being closed by the provider. Anyone still using Windows 7 should urgently switch to a newer Microsoft operating system, anything else would be a major security risk.

While most controls in the latest Microsoft operating system, Windows 10, continue to function as they did in older operating systems such as Windows 7, the user interface of Windows 10 is clearly different. This article is for anyone who doesn’t want to adjust to the new interface or who wants to continue offering their family or employees a familiar working environment. Here are our top tips on how to make Windows 10 look like the familiar Windows 7.

How to make your Windows 10 Start menu look like Windows 7

The start menu of Windows 10 already looks significantly different from that of Windows 7. If you want to work with the tidy and clear menu of Windows 7 again, instead of the many colorful tiles, you can download the free “Open Shell” program. With this freeware, you can customize your start menu in various ways, including making it look (almost) the same as it did in Windows 7.

The good thing about this program is that you can create a backup file before changing your Start Menu settings. If you want to return to the starting point of your experiments, you can easily do so with the backup.

After downloading and installing Open-Shell, you’ll need to set up a few more settings in the program to make your Start menu look like Windows 7. In Open-Shell’s settings menu, under the “Start Menu Style” tab, you’ll find the “Windows 7 Style” option.

In addition to selecting “Windows 7 Style,” you should also activate the “Windows Aero” variant under “Skin.” If you want to set the width of the menu true to the original, you can activate the “Show all Settings” menu item with a tick and enter the value 41 under “Programs pane width.”

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Clean up the taskbar

The bar at the bottom of the screen, which also contains the small button for the Start menu, the taskbar, appears messier in Windows 10 than in Windows 7. Fortunately, this can be fixed with a few mouse clicks.

With a right-click on the taskbar, a drop-down menu appears, with which you can already remove some unwanted buttons. For example, you can uncheck “Show Cortana button” if you don’t need or don’t use the Windows voice assistant.

You can also hide the “Contacts” field in this way. If you do not want to see the large search field, you can point your mouse to the second top field in the same drop-down menu and click on “Hidden” under the “Search” option. Now you won’t see a search box anymore, but you can still search for files, applications, and other items on your computer using the keyboard shortcut WINDOWS+S. Alternatively, you can open the Start menu and simply type in a search term.

Search function_Windows7Look.jpg

Personalize the search function

If you use the Windows search function mentioned above, the operating system not only searches for results on your computer but also on the Internet via Microsoft’s search engine, Bing. Unfortunately, if you want to switch off this function for data protection reasons, you have to change the registry. Microsoft didn’t provide this function, so you won’t find it in the settings menu.

Fortunately, this setting is not difficult to do by hand. You can open the “Run” window with the key combination WINDOWS+R and type in the command “regedit”. Press ENTER to confirm the command and open the registry editor.

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On the left, you will find an ordering system that looks very similar to that of normal Windows Explorer. Here, navigate to the folder


Here, you need the entry “CortanaConsent”, if it doesn’t already exist, you have to create it first. To do this, simply right-click on an empty area in the right part of the window and select “New” and then “DWORD Value (32-bit).” Give the new entry the name “CortanaConsent” (without spaces!).

If the “CortanaConsent” entry already exists, double-click it and set the value to “0” in the new window.

As a second step, create another entry in the same way with the name “BingSearchEnabled.” Again, set the value in the window that opens with a double-click on the entry to “0.”


To activate the entry and turn off web search, you must restart your computer.

If you want to personalize even more data protection settings, you can do this effectively with the “Privacy” menu in the system settings (using the key combination WINDOWS+I).

Here, you can toggle each entry on or off as you see fit. According to tests by C’t or Spiegel, a third-party data protection program is not necessary, especially because tools from third-party providers cannot retain detailed data protection settings with every Windows update.

windows 10 Windows 7 apps and gadget sidebar

If you don’t want to do without the Windows 7 gadgets in Windows 10, you can display them again. Although they are no longer part of the operating system, the freeware “8GadgetPack” contains some gadgets that look very similar to those in Windows 7. With this small, free package, you can see the analog clock or the weather display on your desktop again.

According to C’t or Spiegel, many of the pre-installed apps in Windows 10 have an unjustly bad reputation, after all, they have been significantly improved compared to their Windows 8 versions. They are no longer displayed as full-screen versions but as windows and appear in a handy size depending on their purpose.

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Some apps, especially the calculator, have been significantly improved by Microsoft. Apps like Mail or Maps are definitely worth trying out. If you still don’t want to use these apps, you can simply hide them by right-clicking on them in the Start menu.

All you have to do is right-click on the tile in the Start menu and select “Uninstall.” The apps that you cannot delete this way can be removed using the Windows context menu. To do this, open the context menu with the key combination WINDOWS+X and click on “Windows PowerShell.

Context Menu_Windows7Look.jpg

In the input window, you can type in the command to delete a program. For example, you can remove the program for synchronizing a Windows phone (which is useless anyway since Windows phones are no longer supported by Microsoft) with this command:

Get-AppxPackage Microsoft.YourPhone -AllUsers | Remove-AppxPackage

For different programs, you only have to enter the appropriate name instead of “YourPhone”, you can find this with a short Google search.


Theoretically, you can also delete all pre-installed Windows apps at once, but this is generally not advisable as it would remove practical apps such as the Windows Calculator, some codes for media playback, and the Windows Store.

If you want to adapt the color scheme of your user interface to match the usual Windows 7 interface, you can change the colors in the system settings. To do this, open the settings with the key combination WINDOWS+I and click on “Personalization.”

Under “Personalization,” you can select the “Colors” submenu on the left edge of the screen and set your color scheme here. In the “Themes” submenu, you can select a theme for Windows 10.


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